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August COVID-19 Commentary: COVID-19 Spread Slowing Across Major Midwestern Cities

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AEG continues to track the progression of COVID-19 across the US & around the world. Our analyses help businesses, trade associations, and public institutions to:

  1. Assess the pandemic trajectory using advanced modeling that naturally captures the empirically observed asymmetry in cases over time;
  2. Notice later-occurring (second wave) cases that arise from new infections and variations in institutional records management (such as expanded testing, reclassification, double-counting of test results, expansion to include probable cases, and other factors); and
  3. Understand delays caused by distance, especially in large areas with multiple population centers.

August COVID-19 Commentary:
COVID-19 Spread Slowing Across
Major Midwestern Cities

After making headlines, Midwestern cities are seeing fewer new cases

Brian Peterson Discusses COVID &
the Big 10 on Fox Business

August 28, 2020–Chicago, IL: After mostly avoiding the extreme COVID-19 infection spikes seen in the Northeast and Western United States in March, Midwest states have been thrust into the spotlight in last two weeks, with many news outlets identifying the region as a COVID hotspot. However, new data and analysis by experts at Anderson Economic Group (AEG) suggest that the rate of new infections will likely slow in upcoming weeks in large Midwestern metropolitan areas.

Brian Peterson, the firm’s director of public policy and economic analysis, noted that new infection counts in major Midwest cities are headed in the right direction. “The projections that we have now show new infections decreasing in nine of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the Midwest. Places like Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis are all seeing decreases in new cases, which is a very promising sign.”

“The only metropolitan area where we project new infections increasing in the coming weeks is Kansas City,” said Peterson. Citing data from John Hopkins University, Peterson noted that the positive test rate for Kansas and Missouri has oscillated between 10 and 15 percent – much higher than the national average of six percent.

AEG researchers have observed a clear “two-wave” trend in most areas, with the first peak in new infections occurring between mid-April and mid-May in most regions, followed by a second peak between mid-July and early August.

Peterson notes that, while new cases appear to be declining in major metropolitan areas, residents and businesses should still exercise caution and consult real data when in doubt. “We have made it through nearly five months of the pandemic,” he noted. “Americans now have much more information about how the virus spreads and who is at risk. Because of this, making an informed decision about our desired level of interaction with others is now easier.”

Further analysis and focused commentary will be added here as it becomes available.

About Anderson Economic Group

Anderson Economic Group, LLC, is a US-based research and consulting firm that specializes in economics, public policy, commercial damages, market analysis, and tax and regulatory policy. The firm, founded in 1996, is one of the most recognized boutique consulting firms in the US.

With over 20 years of experience in economic impact modeling, Anderson Economic Group is one of the original pioneers in assessing the economic impacts of higher education. To date, we have completed over 40 such analyses for small and large institutions across the country, including Big Ten institutions such as University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Also available:The Costs & Consequences of the Coronavirus Pandemic: Three Lessons” presented to the Western Economics Association, June 26 Conference. Patrick Anderson’s analysis considers the dominance of empirical over simulation models, the huge cost of stay-at-home orders, and a discussion of the future of empirical models that includes a focus on AEG’s innovative two-wave models.

See the notes at bottom and the associated memorandum regarding a significant update to our forecasting methodology.

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Modeling the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since February, Anderson Economic Group LLC, together with the data analytics firm Supported Intelligence, has been gathering data from multiple countries and U.S. states to model the path of the COVID-19 pandemic. We identified the situation as a crisis as early as our February 10 release, and began to release selected regional analyses in late March. Since then, we have implemented the following practices in our improved model:

  1. We use a two-wave generalized logistic model in conjunction with non-linear curve fitting.
  • We use an improved version of the same mathematical function used for disease growth (including but not limited to the SIR model).
  • Our improvements to the function include but are not limited to the ability to measure asymmetric growth, as well as secondary waves.
  • We compare results across multiple states and countries.
  1. We show the actual data.
  • We focus on a tangible concept: the number of people cases with the disease.
  • We show uncertainty, units, dates, and past prediction errors.
  • We use data compiled by the New York Times for most of the United States, and World-o-Meter for much of the rest of the world.
  1. We describe our methodology, data sources, and limitations.

See the memorandum describing the methods, data, limitations, and Terms of Use for this information.